| 2 March 2024, Saturday |

Report: Netanyahu rejected plan to kill Hamas’ Yahya Sinwar six times

Israeli former defense minister Avigdor Liberman confirmed on Tuesday a Maariv report saying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had rejected – several times – a plan to kill leader of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya al-Sinwar.

The report by Ben Caspit said that between 2011 and 2023, Netanyahu rejected several plans presented by the Shin Bet to eliminate Sinwar and other senior members of the Palestinian movement.

Netanyahu’s office denied the reports.

However, Liberman said Netanyahu was the one who granted “immunity” to Sinwar and the leaders of Hamas, standing against any attempts to neutralize them.

“I’m stating this not as mere speculation, but as someone with personal knowledge of the matter,” he stated.

In his report, Caspit said Netanyahu rejected the plan to eliminate Sinwar at least six times in recent years. He added that the plan was put forward to Netanyahu by the three most recent heads of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) during their respective tenures: Yoram Cohen, Nadav Argaman, and the current head, Ronen Bar.

Caspit wrote that according to conversations with numerous senior figures in the security establishment, the operational plan was well-thought-out and actionable that could be put into motion at any given moment.

According to the plan, Sinwar didn’t spend most of his time in hiding; he maintained a visible presence and did not move between secret apartments or bunkers, unlike Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who has followed such practices since 2006.

A month ago, former Shin Bet head Cohen revealed to “Meet the Press” that the agency had recommended conduction operations targeting all of Hamas’ leaders in Gaza. He said Netanyahu rejected all of these operational opportunities.

Caspit, a leading journalist in Israel, has accused Netanyahu of systematically strengthening Hamas to deepen divisions between the Palestinian factions. He is also working on weakening the Palestinian Authority and its President Mahmoud Abbas.

Netanyahu views Hamas as a “treasure” that will help him scuttle the two-state solution, continued Caspit. He added that the first favor Netanyahu offered Hamas was the prisoner swap deal that saw the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in return for 1,027 Palestinian detainees, including Sinwar, in 2011.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat